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October 24, 1995 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Back in the day, rock
bands usedtotourinsqualid
old vans, eating lotsof Taco
Bell and engaging inwoeful-
Not this month's pocket
band. They want to ride
their bicycles.
"I got laid off from my
job," explains Kurt Noel
Liebert, singer and bassist
forthe New York City
power-pop trio Bicycle.
"And I'm a huge biking fan.
So Ithought I mightjust
strap a guitar to my back
and cross the country doing
acoostic shows. I told the
guys in the band, and they
were like, 'Let's do it.'
.. Sotfor two monthsilast
summer, Uebert, guitarist
Brian Chenault and drummer
Forrest Keimper bikedZ2700
nifles across America -
with Chenault's mom haul-
King the equipment and a
pop-up camper behind them.
They played gigs in
towns along the way, torn-
ing in sets of originals and
covers- including Air
Supply. And they camped.
No tour bus. No per diem.
Maybe s'mores-
"Chicago was toe
worst," Liebert says. "We
came through right during
that heat wave, We ended
up staying in an air-condi-
tioned Burger King for
seven hours."
Nevertheless, Bicycle is
again on the road, making
their waytfrom Malne to
Florida. "We're hoping it
will bo a little easier this
trip,' Liebert asys Should
be - it's all downhill from
Augusta to Tallahassee. But
the trip back will suck.
For more information on
Bicycle, their tour and their
upcoming EPSouvenir, call

Rating System
***** super
**** califragi
*** listic
* expiali
* docious
Tracy Chapman
New Beginnings
Critics will likely
slam on this album for
the same screwhead
reasons they ripped on
Natalie Merchant's
lovely Tigerlily. Evi-
dently, female "alterna-
tive" artists these days
must be savvy and pro-
fane, their music raw
and edgy. Well, thanks for the tip.
These critics can now kiss Merchant's plat-
inum-selling grits, and they better be careful with
New Beginnings. Tracy Chapman's songs of
youthful strivings ("Fast Car") and political
activism ("Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution") made her
the most successful folk artist of the '80s. With
this, her fourth album, Chapman doesn't wander
far from form.
The politics are a bit thin, granted. To para-
phrase David Lowery, the world needs another eco-
social folk anthem ("The Rape of the World") like I
need a hole in my head. But you'll forgive all this
when you hear Chapman's gorgeous character
sketches ("Cold Feet") and intensely personal medi-
tations ("At This Point In My Life," "I'm Ready").
Although some of the studio strings will give
you diabetes, a return to generally minimal
instrumentation heightens the effect of Chap-
man's remarkably emotive voice. Quiet and
courageous, New Beginnings is louder in its whis-
pers than in its shouts.
Old School Punk
Various Artists
Neurotic Records
West Coast punk in
the early '80s is a fairly
specific little chunk of
music history. With
Reagan in the White
House and, like, "Mr.
Roboto" on the radio,
America was ripe for a
subculture explosion.
Thus '70s punk begat
'80s hardcore punk, which seemed to spawn best in
the sunny suburbs of southern California.

Old School Punk is a solid collection of 14
songs from the scene's heyday. X's "Los Angeles"
is the keystone of the collection, representing the
stoic anti-'tude of the times while foreshadowing
punk's inevitable popular assimilation. (Included
bands Redd Kross and Suicidal Tendencies gradu-
ally drifted toward pop and metal, respectively.)
Most of the other bands are long gone, although
their legacy lives on in Green Day, Rancid and
the Offspring.
One exception is the Circle Jerks (who recently
recorded with, no fooling, Debbie Gibson). Their
1980 anthem "Wild In The Streets" is almost per-
fect in it's two-chord, melodic glory. Other defini-
tive moments are turned in by the Germs ("Richie
Dagger's Crime"), T.S.O.L. (the necrophilic "Code
Blue") and Agent Orange ("Bloodstains"). In fact,
only the conspicuous absence of seminal scenesters
Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys handicaps this
capable collection.
Emmylou Harris
Wrecking Ball
Every now and
again, when you re so
lonesome you could cry,
nothing hits the spot
like a good old country
song. Not the foot-
stompin', Stetson-
wearin', achin' breakin'
yee-haw country of
Clint and Garth - but
the deep, bluesy strains of the old school.
Emmylou Harris is among the last of these tra-
ditional country proponents, and her sadly beauti-
ful voice is just the right medicine for your
cheatin' heart. Teamed here with fiber-producer
Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan), Harris has under-
taken a boldly progressive agenda. Wrecking Ball
includes songs by Jimi Hendrix, Steve Earle,
Lanois, Lucinda Williams, Dylan and Neil Young,
among others.
Harris interprets these songs with her usual
grace, her voice steeped in sorrow and promises of
redemption. But the real story here is the alchemy
of her traditional sensibilities and Lanois' progres-
sive production. "Where Will I Be," with its stutter-
ing snare drum (supplied by U2's Larry Mullen)
and delay-pedal guitar, could have fit in just fine on
Joshua Tree. On "Deeper Well," Lanois paints an
arid, abrasive soundscape as Harris' voice bottoms
out into Johnny Cash territory. It's an odd mar-
riage, but one that works.
A true meeting of the minds, Wrecking Ball is a
testament to traditional country's enduring appeal
- and one of its finest moments.

B. Supergrass, Ienoud Coco, Capitoi. .
7. Garbage, Garbage, ALM
8. Charlatans UK, Charlatans UK,
Beggars Banquet
9. NOFX, IHeard They SuckLive, Fat
10. The Verve, A Northern Soul, Vernon Yard
Chart based solely on college radio airplay. Contributing
radio stations: WUTK; U. of Tennessee, Knoxville;
KRNU, U. of Nebraska; KUCB, U. of Colorado, Boulder;
KWVA, U. of Oregon; KTRU, Rice U., Texas; ACRN,
Ohio U.; KUOM, U. of Minnesota and KVRX, U. of
Texas, Austin.
The U.RadioChartissponsored by
Here's Where the Strings Come in
Superchunk is prob-
ably the most lovable
band in rock. Remark-
ably generous, they .
crank out album after 7-
inch after B-side after
album of unpretentious
punk-pop nuggets for
their legions of fans.
Staunchly independent
- they own and run their own label - they never
come off righteous or cranky. And they smile big in
all their photos.
Strings finds the band in top form, the complex
arrangements and generally speedier pace resulting
in a more compact sound. The first single, "Hyper
Enough," rocks with a kind of desperate abandon,
flailing around like a heartbroken 10th grader
drunk on Dad's beer. If frontman Mac McCaughan
keeps writing songs like this, it won't be long before
Superchunk makes the leap from great indie band
to legendary indie band. No kidding - those mak-
ing the Husker Du /Replacements comparisons
ain't just whistlin' Dixie.
If there's a problem, it's that McCaughan's dis-
tinctive voice and the guitars' often limited tonal
range make every Superchunk song sound like a
Superchunk song, if you know what I mean. Which
isn't bad, but a little stylistic recklessness never
hurts. Maybe next album.

Rapid Fires
Big rock
Butch Vig
x+ YF (Nirvana,
launches his
own band
- with a pretty

frickin' great debut album of studio
trickery, pop hooks and lean, mean
Rocket from the Crypt
Scream, Dracula, Screamt
San Diego's premier rock stars RFTC
play inventive, dynamic punk songs with
rare discipline and Beatlesesque harmo-
nizing. Screamwill stick to your brain
like gum to a shoe.
Mike Scott
Bring 'Em All In
Scott, formerly of the Waterboys,

indulges his Gaelic mystical muse with a
highland squall of love songs, tartan
kilts and unfiltered, malted Scotch
Junior M.A.F.I.A.
Undeas/Big Beat
These mediocre gangsta MCs from
B.I.G.'s crew are interesting only due to
their breathtaking Wu Tang-like market-
ing campaign. They will sell millions, so
you may aswell hop on the boat.
Blue Moods of Spain

Sort of a high-brow Cowboy Junkies,
Spain make slow, sad music for slow,
sad moods. Some jazz, some R&B, some
country, some soul. Some kind of
The Next Chapter
Immortal Records
In hip-hop's never-ending quest to
"keep it real," here's a compilation of
16 unsigned artists from all over the
country. The results are mixed, but
some stellar moments from America's
young MCs make it a chapter worth

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22 U.. Magazi e November 1995

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